NEW YORK — It would be tough to peg Beyoncé Knowles as the girl who used to initial her Keds with rhinestones and beg her mother to make polkadot dresses.
Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles, won’t launch their House of Deréon label with jeans and T-shirts until holiday, but they already are shopping around for footwear and jewelry licenses after signing a deal in December with Tarrant Apparel Group for sportswear, to be introduced for spring 2006. Named after the singer’s seamstress grandmother, the full-fledged spring collection — part of the deal they signed last year with executives at Wear Me Apparel/Kids Headquarters — will incorporate some of her signature touches such as hand-smocking and -beading. “We work really well together,” Tina Knowles said. “She’ll say we’ll have to throw in a street element.”
The Knowleses have been collaborating since Beyoncé started performing at the age of 7.
“She always has had input. She grew up cutting up her clothes and redesigning them. This is like a dream come true,” Tina Knowles said. “I always wanted her to be different and unique, and to not want what everyone sees in the magazines.”
As a child, the songstress was obsessed with polkadot dresses — and her mother sewed them since she couldn’t find them in stores to buy. Big on projects, she encouraged her daughters to use glitter and rhinestones to customize their tennis shoes, when they badgered her for BK sneakers like their cousins had. “I would tell Beyoncé to put [rhine]stones on her Keds to make them her own.”
While Beyoncé made the rounds of the New York shows two seasons ago, this time round, she has been to only one so far — Oscar de la Renta on Monday — and she went at her mother’s insistence. Tina Knowles, wearing a Carolina Herrera pantsuit and Escada blouse at the show, explained, “I’m the Oscar fan. I have always thought he made the most beautiful clothes. I came to the show last year and told Beyoncé she had to come to see for herself.”
No matter that the paparazzi barreled over guests — knocking Suzy Menkes on her keister — to get in range of the musician. Once ensconced in a private room and free from the pack of photographers, the starlet’s mother said the frenzy would not deter them from attending other fashion shows: “This is part of wherever she goes. They just beat me up,” Tina Knowles said shaking her head.
But she was prepared. “I am so glad I have close-toed shoes on. They must have stepped on my feet 10 times,” she laughed.
Her daughter was amused for other reasons. “I’m like a kid. I’m still smiling,” said the star, who was wearing a sunshine yellow, ruffled Oscar de la Renta skirt. “I loved all the fabrics — all the satin with beading and lace. It was so feminine. I’m still trying to decide which one I liked the most.”
De la Renta’s ballgowns and the full skirts worn with sweaters were her top picks.
No word yet on where they plan to hold the brand’s first runway show next fall.
But Beyoncé isn’t taking too much stock in her own influence on fashion. “I think a lot of celebrities are known for their fashion. A lot of younger kids come up to me and say they want to dress like me. I know a lot of them watch music videos and we influence them in that way.”
Now the Grammy-award winner is wondering what occasion she might wear one of those de la Renta ballgowns to. A wedding to Jay-Z, apparently, is not on the horizon this year. “Oh no,” she laughed, when asked.